The Rules of Bandwagon Jumping

My Astros fandom has been well-documented. I don’t need to prove it. Ask my dad. Ask those closest to me. Ask Chris Allman, whose friendship began with me when I rattled off for memory every pitch in Bob Knepper’s first inning in June of 1987 against the Cubs where he failed to register an out and gave up a million runs.

Most recently, ask my neighbors who witnessed me run out of my house screaming without a shirt on after Yuli caught the last out from Jose on November 1, 2017.

(Karen Warren/Houston Chronicle via AP)

I’m a born and bred Astros fan, and since that aforementioned Yuli putout that clinched the first World Series Championship in franchise history, I’ve been floating on a proverbial sports celebration cloud. Most notably, I’ve just been a beacon of fraternal sports appreciation, meaning if you support my team, I straight up (literally) love you. So much so that I’ve started greeting and / or high-fiving random strangers wearing Astros gear – which goes one of two ways.

  1. It takes them a moment to realize what’s happening and why you’re nodding at them or going up top for a high one.
  2. They instantly reciprocate with unbridled enthusiasm no matter the context. (Note: I did this with a guy I saw in the hospital who was wearing an Astros’ World Series hat and was there with his wife who was full-on in labor. The beauty of this moment is that he knew my hat tip had nothing to do with the birth of his child and that it was entirely about the Astros)

I love the second guy.

I still love the first guy.

This is quite a departure for me because a previous version of me had no tolerance for bandwagon jumpers.

So this begs the question. Does your team winning a world championship irreversibly loosen the rules we personally put in place when it comes to jumping on the bandwagon? Or does it tighten them?

For me it’s more loose, but I can understand if you’re in the camp that tightens the reins.

Nonetheless, here are what I perceive to be the rules of bandwagon jumping – i.e. when it’s ok to jump on a bandwagon.

(Note: Here’s a bit of trivia courtesy of the Google machine. Did you know a bandwagon was part of the processional of a circus that was coming to town. Typically it was loud and ornate and thus, circus performers often times jumped onto it to garner more attention from the celebrating crowds.

The Rules:

You Got Burned

This means your old team left / folded / did something inexcusable. This is the most appropriate and widely acceptable reason to jump on another team’s bandwagon. If you were sports-orphaned, cheer for whoever you want. (i.e. Seattle Supersonics, Houston Oilers)

You Are Related

This means you’re related to someone on a particular team. Bonus points however if you happen to support a rival team and refuse to shed your colors and thus outwardly cheer against your relative during rivalry games.

Your City Doesn’t Have a Team

This means the city you grew up in, or lived in during your formative years did not have a particular professional sports team. For instance, I have a friend who was born and raised in Austin. While he had the Texas Longhorns to cheer for, he had no legitimate ties to any sports team so he just cheered for teams with significant Longhorns. NOTE: This scenario carries with it one condition and that is you may not use “we” when referring to any of those other teams you support. Example: You went to UCLA from 2004-2008 and saw Kevin Love and Russell Westbrook playing together. If you’re talking about the current UCLA Bruins, you may use “we,” but you may absolutely not use it when talking about the Cleveland Cavaliers and / or the Oklahoma City Thunder. Plus…wouldn’t you also be a Laker fan? You know what…I’m out on this rule.

If the city you crew up does not have a pro team and none of the other rules apply, you need to choose a team within a 100 mile radius.

Also, while we’re on the subject: Using “we” when referring to your college conference. Never. No. Stop it.

Grandfather Clause

This means there is a lineage associated with your fandom and thus transcends any geographic location. Parent allegiance is acceptable. Grandparent allegiance is optimal. Americans could stand to learn a lot from soccer fans in Europe.

Misery Loves Company

This means that for whatever reason(s) you jumped in on a team that is tragically bad or mismanaged and has been for 5 years or more. What this means is that you’re essentially buying stock when it’s low and as such you should be rewarded if your emotional investment pays off. (i.e. Houston Astros in 2010, Cleveland Browns at all times in history)


To close, I feel it’s worth mentioning my personal connection to some of these rules.

  • You Got Burned: Check. The Houston Oilers left me in 1997 for Tennessee. The closest NFL team geographically was the Dallas Cowboys – who I loathed and still loathe to this day. To date, the Oilers leaving is one of the most heartbreaking sports moment of my life, and for 5 years (until the Texans came), I cheered for no one except the St. Louis Rams in 2000 in the Super Bowl when they faced…the Tennessee Titans.
  • You Are Related: Sadly no…although I am claiming Jose Altuve as a dependent on my Tax Return
  • Your City Doesn’t Have a Team: I moved to Austin in 1999 and kept all of my allegiances to Houston but was also adopted by Longhorn nation. As a result, I routinely follow the careers of former Longhorns, none more than Kevin Durant. When he won a Championship with the Warriors in 2017, I almost cried Longhorn tears of joy. Whether those tears were more about him being a Longhorn or because he scorned the state of Oklahoma to get there, I’m not sure. Either way, Hook ‘Em.
  • Grandfather Clause: My grandfather took me to one of my first Astros game. This is significant because one of my first memories as a kid is getting lost in the Astrodome. I wandered down closer to the field to get a better look without my grandfather knowing. After a couple of minutes, I turned around and realized I had no idea where I was supposed to be. Thankfully I had the wherewithal to find a very kind stadium attendant who took me to some administrative office where they gave me a ball and asked me who I was there with. I replied, “Grandpa.” When they followed up and asked me his name, I said, “Grandpa.” Yeah…didn’t know his name at that point.
  • Misery Loves Company: I went to an Astros game in 2013 on their way to 111 losses (There may have been less than 1000 people there). I’ve lived through a murderer’s row of mediocre Houston Texans quarterbacks only to see the only glimmer of hope Deshaun Watson go down this season in what was undoubtedly a Rookie of the Year campaign. As for the Rockets – these 2017 Rockets aren’t my 93-95 Rockets and ironically, I have no feelings one way or the other about them. Gimme some time though. There’s still enough to jump on late…I think.

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